Ending the HIV Epidemic in the US Success Stories

At a glance

Ending the HIV Epidemic in the US (EHE) scales up novel HIV prevention and care strategies in 57 priority areas. Understanding lessons learned from local leaders implementing EHE solutions is critical to maximizing EHE's impact.

Four people in Baton Rouge, LA.

Success stories: EHE in action

Read the inspirational stories below to learn how jurisdictions are using EHE resources to address unique challenges facing their communities.

Find out how EHE resources are supporting promising practices to reach people that access HIV care in STI clinics.

Lowering rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is a top priority for the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD). In 2020, COVID-19 forced clinics to limit or suspend in-person services—including HIV and STI testing.

In response, BCHD used EHE funding to embrace non-traditional service delivery methods. Partnering with I Want the Kit, BCHD delivered thousands of test kits and helped link people to care.

Strategies for breaking down barriers to HIV and STI testing and care

BCHD partnered with I Want the Kit to increase the distribution of HIV self-tests and STI mail-in tests. In 2020, they processed over 1,800 HIV self-tests and over 5,500 chlamydia/gonorrhea mail-in tests.

BCHD and I Want the Kit implemented a user-friendly testing process. The kits included sample collection swabs and tubes, discreet packaging, simple instructions, information on STIs, and pre-paid mailing materials. This made it easier for people to collect and submit samples.

BCHD partnered with the University of Maryland's STAR TRACK program to develop a youth at-home HIV and STI testing program. The discreet box contains free HIV and/or STI test kits and educational materials on sexual health. Recipients order online or receive a kit through STAR TRACK's mobile van.

For increased privacy, BCHD and I Want the Kit provided USPS mailbox locations through QR codes included in test kits.

Gretchen Armington, Program Director, I Want the Kit‎

"Ensuring equitable access to HIV and STI testing in Baltimore City has long been our priority. With EHE support and BCHD's partnership, we have expanded outreach and increased distribution of HIV self-tests and STI mail-in tests. Having a trusted partner has made all the difference."

Elizabeth Gilliam, MD, MSC, Medical Director of STI Services, Baltimore City Health Department Sexual Health Clinics‎

"I Want the Kit stepped in to make STI/HIV testing available during COVID-19 when our services were restricted. Self-tests and mail-in tests remain in demand at levels higher than before the pandemic."

Yukari Manabe, MD, Johns Hopkins Center for Innovative Diagnostics for Infectious Diseases‎

"Innovation without access is meaningless. Partners expressed a need for increased access to testing in non-traditional spaces and we responded. EHE helps us meet the needs of the communities we serve and makes it easier for people to get tested."

T.O. Vinson is a health center operated by the DeKalb County Board of Health in the Atlanta, Georgia area. In recent years, staff heard some clients were reluctant to try game-changing HIV prevention options like pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

With support from EHE, T.O. Vinson launched a new PrEP program. This program expanded the reach of the healthcare system by enabling registered nurses (RNs) to connect more people in DeKalb County to vital HIV prevention options.

Strategies for connecting people to PrEP

The Georgia Department of Public Health published a new protocol allowing RNs to evaluate and order PrEP for eligible patients. EHE resources were used to train RNs at T.O. Vinson to offer PrEP through the new protocol.

During patient discussions, nurses can now offer PrEP to patients at T.O Vinson. Discussions often include helping patients acknowledge they are at risk for HIV and that their health is worth protecting.

Through EHE, T.O. Vinson hired new staff to educate people considering PrEP, and provide critical education, support, and follow-up care after a PrEP prescription.

DeKalb County and the Georgia Department of Public Health launched a print and social media advertising campaign promoting PrEP. The ads, posted in English and Spanish, were widely visible on Atlanta's public transit system and in a local mall.

Dr. Sentayehu Bedane, Countywide Services Manager, DeKalb County Board of Health‎

"EHE funding was the engine we needed to set the program in motion. These services are filling a critical gap in HIV prevention for people in our county."

Dr. Gregory Felzien, Medical Advisor, Georgia Department of Public Health‎‎

"This PrEP training program expands our reach by partnering with RNs to introduce PrEP to patients. This process encompasses everything from evaluation and lab tests to coaching eligible clients through clinical considerations and follow-up appointments."

Ebonee Gresham, RN, MSN, Clinical Nurse Coordinator, T.O. Vinson Health Center‎‎

"I'm often the first person talking with patients about their sexual partners and ways to reduce their HIV risk. It's my responsibility to ensure patients know HIV can be prevented, and that they deserve access to those prevention options."

Darlene McDougle, Public Health Educator, T.O. Vinson Health Center‎‎

"I measure success by the number of clients who feel confident and empowered to protect themselves against HIV. This is true whether I'm counseling a young gay man on his father's insurance or a couple exploring prevention options."

In Louisiana's East Baton Rouge Parish, the rate of people living with HIV is triple the national average. But the parish is driving efforts to end the HIV epidemic.

With support from EHE, leaders came together to confront HIV. They harnessed the power of the emergency room to diagnose HIV earlier and get people with HIV into treatment. Community leaders also shared strategies and resources to connect people at risk with critical HIV prevention, treatment, and support services.

Strategies for expanding HIV diagnosis, treatment, and prevention

With EHE resources, the Louisiana Department of Health hired community health workers to take services into the community. They distributed condoms and information about PrEP, screened individuals for HIV, hepatitis C, and syphilis, and linked people to care.

Ochsner Medical Center – Baton Rouge began an opt-out testing program and receives support through EHE.

East Baton Rouge Parish hired a Rapid Start Navigator to connect people with HIV to appropriate care quickly.

East Baton Rouge Parish also hired an EHE Coordinator to develop a blueprint for ending the parish's HIV epidemic. This involved meeting with staff to learn about existing HIV prevention efforts, identifying opportunities or interventions with the greatest impact, and working closely with staff to organize a workshop to determine the parish's HIV prevention and care priorities.

Isaac Gilliard, Lead Community Health Worker, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana Department of Health‎‎

"I see people struggling to overcome the same barriers I had when first diagnosed with HIV. That shared experience – the fact that I have been in their shoes and can walk with them now – creates trust."

Susan Green, Emergency Department Director, Ochsner Medical Center – Baton Rouge‎‎

"Once they saw how great the need was, our nurses were ready to make routine HIV testing available for everyone."

Mathilde Silverberg, Ending the HIV Epidemic Coordinator, East Baton Rouge Parish‎‎

"Our community-based organizations and health centers are the experts on what's happening with HIV in Baton Rouge. They know who's at risk, what types of services are needed, and which interventions could have the biggest impact."

Access to traditional, in-person healthcare services, including HIV testing, were disrupted by COVID-19. EHE and Minority HIV/AIDS Fund investments were needed to bridge service gaps.

With these investments, CDC launched a project to mail 100,000 HIV self-tests to members of communities most affected by HIV. CDC closed the online ordering portal after all 100,000 self-tests were distributed in just eight months. A follow-up program, Together TakeMeHome, aims to deliver up to 1 million free HIV self-tests over five years.

Strategies for delivering HIV self-testing

CDC created an online portal where people could place an order for in-home HIV Test kits at no cost. To increase awareness, CDC promoted HIV self-testing through the Let's Stop HIV Together campaign and placed advertisements on digital platforms.

CDC tailored communications for priority populations on channels known to be effective in reaching them. Priority populations included Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men, Black cisgender women, and transgender women. CDC also worked with Together Ambassadors, Together PACT partners, and social media influencers to raise awareness of the project.

CDC partnered with influencers to promote awareness of HIV self-testing, including New York City-based musician and social media influencer Teraj. Teraj highlighted the importance of knowing one's HIV status and linked to CDC's Let's Stop HIV Together campaign. He engaged personally through comments and direct messages to help people access needed resources. CDC continues to support local self-testing programs.

Pollyanna Chavez, Division of HIV Prevention, CDC‎‎

"If self-testing can reach people who otherwise wouldn't test, it's a gateway for them to approach care. It's empowering people to take control of their care."

Emily Lilo, Division of HIV Prevention, CDC‎‎

"The hope is that we'll roll out future self-testing programs that build off our successes and lessons learned."

During COVID-19, HIV clinics and people seeking HIV-related services had to adapt to a new reality. Telehealth became a crucial and transformative way for some HIV clinics to provide a lifeline to patients. Telehealth is the distribution of health-related services and information via phone, tablet, or computer.

In rural Kentucky, two organizations created successful telehealth models using EHE funding. These organizations show how forward-thinking strategies can strengthen health systems, build meaningful connections with people with HIV, and save lives.

Strategies for using telehealth to provide treatment and support for people with HIV

LivWell Community Health Services in Paducah, KY launched a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform. LivWell worked with patients to overcome technological and socioeconomic barriers. This included remotely measuring vital signs and arranging visits to other health or laboratory clinics that were open and accessible. Since then, 89% of LivWell's patients have been seen via telehealth and 95% of their patients are virally suppressed.

The Matthew 25 AIDS Services clinic in Bowling Green, KY implemented a hybrid in-person/telehealth program. Patients arrived in-person to give blood and take vital signs and were virtually connected to an off-site provider. State-of-the-art equipment allowed for remote examination of the lungs, heart, skin, and oral cavity. In 2020, 90% of Bowling Green's active patients were virally suppressed. In 2021, that number increased to 94%.

Donna Reeder, LivWell Community Health Services Executive Director‎‎

"Telehealth is a way to reach out to clients and say, 'We're still here, we're still helping you.'"

Andrea Leonard, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part B Manager, LivWell Community Health Services‎‎

"Telehealth allowed us to continue delivering high-quality HIV treatment that meets our patients' needs."

Cyndee Burton, Matthew 25 AIDS Services Founder and Administrator‎‎

"When we see needs our patients have, we try to step up and build services that meet their needs."

Ashley Lynch, Medical Office Manager, LivWell Community Health Services‎‎

"When things shut down, nurses could see them via telehealth. We had a few people say that our support gave them hope."

In 2021, health officials in Atlanta, Georgia identified several rapidly growing clusters of new HIV diagnoses. These clusters predominantly included young Hispanic and Latino gay and bisexual men. The growth of the clusters suggested considerable gaps in HIV prevention services for young gay and bisexual men.

Area health departments used EHE funding to close these prevention gaps. As a result, culturally informed, community-based interventions built bridges with Hispanic and Latino gay and bisexual men.

Strategies for addressing growing HIV clusters

Local and state health officials visited service providers, clinics, bars, and nightclubs to learn from the community the barriers to HIV prevention. They learned few area healthcare providers spoke Spanish. HIV prevention and other health campaigns and materials were mostly in English. Existing Spanish materials did not reflect local needs and values.

Officials ensured providers and materials reflected community needs. The state's application for the federal Ryan White program was translated into Spanish. Educational materials and Spanish-language social media campaigns for Hispanic and Latino communities were created with the specific community needs and values in mind. And bilingual health providers and support staff were hired.

A collective response included local health departments and affected communities. Community organizations, local service providers, and members of academic institutions met regularly to discuss the response. County health departments used federal resources to develop a unified prevention and care infrastructure. The state and CDC created a dashboard to help officials visualize and understand HIV cluster data.

Dorian Freeman, clinical infectious disease program director for GNR Public Health‎‎

"We were only seeing our one piece of the HIV puzzle. We didn't understand the full breadth of need among young gay Hispanic and Latino men. State data gave us a new urgency to magnify our efforts."

Gilda Pedraza, Executive Director of the Latino Community Fund (LCF) Georgia‎‎

"Most of our Spanish-speaking community around Atlanta is fairly traditional. Campaigns that work in Los Angeles or New York might not work here. You have to think carefully about who you're trying to reach and really ground the work in that specific community."

Eric Rangel, Board President at Latino LinQ‎‎

"Working with the health department changed how we do outreach with communities. We realized we have to instill trust and meet people where they are in the places where they're already comfortable."

Dr. Carlos Saldana, Fulton County Board of Health‎‎

"Language justice was one of the most important needs we heard from the community. Talking about HIV and other health conditions can be challenging. Creating culturally relevant materials in Spanish and hiring community members reaches more people and gives them control of their health."

Eleanor Garlow, Georgia Department of Public Health‎‎

"Working with local groups and local providers has been fundamental to our response. Building trust is a long-term, multifaceted, and collaborative process that we're committed to."

Expanding access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is critical to EHE's success. With CDC support, NASTAD works to address structural and social barriers to accessing and using PrEP.

In 2020-2021, COVID-19-related healthcare disruptions made it more challenging to get or stay on PrEP. To increase PrEP access and uptake, NASTAD used EHE funding to help EHE jurisdictions design and implement telePrEP programs. These programs were tailored to each jurisdiction's needs and barriers.

Strategies for bridging gaps in PrEP access

NASTAD launched the TelePrEP Learning Collaborative, a virtual learning community for staff in EHE jurisdictions developing telePrEP programs. Through the collaborative, jurisdiction staff could seek specialized technical and capacity building assistance. Participants saw their telePrEP services strengthened or expanded.

Building on the success of its program, NASTAD created the TelePrEP Online Learning Series. This platform grants all EHE jurisdictions access to regularly updated PrEP resources. Staff in jurisdictions across the country can review materials for their specific programs on their own schedules.

The TelePrEP Learning Collaborative led to new and enduring participant relationships with each other and with NASTAD. These relationships enable jurisdictions to share best practices as they design and implement telePrEP and expand PrEP access. NASTAD continues to share new resources and PrEP access updates and holds routine virtual office hours to support ongoing efforts.

Javontae Lee Williams, MPH, Program Manager, Philadelphia Department of Public Health‎‎

"The advent of telePrEP in our city signifies a leap toward a future where HIV prevention is accessible to all. Working with NASTAD has empowered us to broaden PrEP access in Philadelphia and fostered a deep sense of community partnership."

Nicholas Sanders, Senior Program Manager of Prevention Services, Damien Center‎‎

"Our learnings from the NASTAD TelePrEP Project allowed Damien Center to scale up an accessible in-house telePrEP program. Expanding our services via telehealth enables us to provide accessible PrEP education in rural Indiana where PrEP is less accessible."

Nicole Elinoff, Senior Manager, Prevention, NASTAD‎‎

"EHE funding made this NASTAD program possible. It fostered an environment where EHE jurisdictions can exchange information and ideas and create or grow telePrEP programs. We've seen the PrEP access landscape shift significantly since EHE was launched."

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